Larger and greener: Disentangling the industry effect on proactive environmental strategy in the Italian context

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Marco Minciullo ORCID logo, Matteo Pedrini ORCID logo

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This research aims to investigate the influence of the industrial context on the implementation of proactive environmental strategies in listed firms, by verifying how the industry environmental impact affects the development of proactive environmental strategies (PES). Prior research on PES identified firm size as one of the most relevant and universally accepted antecedent, but recently a new stream of research has underlined the importance of the industry context. Due to the difficulties of studying environmental issues in SMEs, extant research on the role of the environmental impact of industries on PES within SMEs is lacking. For this reason, this study investigates the influence of the industrial context on PES in SMEs, to verify how it affects PES. Beginning from the assumption that more resources imply a higher engagement in proactive environmental strategies (PES), this study verifies, through the industry-context perspective, that in environmentally critical industries, SMEs can be more proactive than large corporations. The results indicate that the adoption of PES is principally subject to the industry effect and that belonging to an industry characterised by a significant environmental impact fosters the adoption of a more proactive approach to environmental issues. The relation is confirmed for both SMEs and large firms, not only within the two categories but also transversely. Thus, this research shows that SMEs working in environmentally critical industries show significant degrees of interest, motivation, and implementation of environmental management issues. This highlights that SMEs in environmentally critical industries place relative importance on managerial implications, risk management, and compliance, are less interested in external appraisal or initiatives that require huge investments.

Keywords: Environmental Management, Industry, Environmental Impact, SMEs, Proactive Environmental Strategy

JEL Classification: M10, Q56, M14, M40, M19

Received: 23.10.2018

Accepted: 14.12.2018

Published online: 17.12.2018

How to cite this paper: Minciullo, M., & Pedrini, M. (2018). Larger and greener: Disentangling the industry effect on proactive environmental strategy in the Italian context. Corporate Ownership & Control, 16(1), 58-71.